Perhaps the only completely accurate Van Morrison category would be the one that Morrison himself has repeatedly embraced: "mystic." In dozens of songs documenting his Celtic soul's restless quest, he's made a career in popular music seem like a higher calling.
In January Polydor/Universal Music launched its Morrison reissue campaign by releasing the first of what will eventually comprise 29 remastered, bonus-track-enhanced editions. Of the initial seven, Tupelo Honey (1971), Wavelength (1978), and Back on Top (1999) have long been bestsellers, but it's Into the Music (1979) and Avalon Sunset (1989) that will continue to fascinate Christians. (This was written a few years ago. Albums were being reissued and then the work suddenly stopped. Fans have a range of opinions about the whole process, but what most appreciated was the bonus material.)
On Into the Music, Morrison sang of reading his Bible (Rolling Hills) and finding "sanctuary in the Lord" (Full Force Gale), on Avalon Sunset of God's all-sustaining omnipresence (When Will I Ever Learn to Live in God?) and the healing power of "Jesus' name" (Whenever God Shines His Light). The reissue adds a version of When the Saints Go Marching In, in which Morrison name-checks St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. John of the Cross. Coming from someone famous for Brown-Eyed Girl, such sentiments are attention-getting. What makes them compelling is Morrison's dramatisation of them as statements of deep conviction.